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Live / stage review

"Laughter is foundational to the therapeutic experience": Self Esteem at the Academy

Empowering, celebratory, forgiving and carefree, Self Esteem’s poignant hometown show proves she’s destined for the biggest stage.

21 March 2023 at
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Jacob Flannery

Last December, under the hazy Leadmill lights, I wrote in my notes app how ‘Still Reigning’ changed my life. Letting out a stream of silent but very evident tears, I showed this to Rebecca Lucy Taylor and received the biggest hug.

Closing her set with this song, there doesn’t feel like a more fitting set of words to go home with. “The love you need is gentle / The love you need is kind / I figured that out after / All this alone time.” Whoever you are in this moment, Self Esteem reminds us we deserve healthy and gentle love – and that it starts from within.

Laughter is foundational to the therapeutic experience Self Esteem provides. I Tour This All The Time is pure escapism, whether she brings out Sheffield Wednesday’s Ozzie the Owl during ‘The Best’ or pauses her performance of ‘John Elton’ so no more phone torches appear (“This isn’t Coldplay! Sorry, I still love you Chris Martin.”) It’s all a “right laugh,” and Taylor’s wit shines through.

During the finale of the stripped-back ‘John Elton,’ Self Esteem stands firmly in her feelings as the crowd reaches silence. It’s slower moments like this that emphasise how special her journey has been up to this point. Her vision, her songs and her stage presence, after years of hard work, have culminated in bringing us the starry show in front of us today.

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Jacob Flannery

With standout performances during ‘Fucking Wizadry,’ ‘Girl Crush’ and ‘I’m Fine’, Taylor’s gig embodies everything you could ever hope for. It's liberating and carefree.

During ‘The 345’ and ‘I Do This All The Time,’ the show feels even more intimate. Both songs are healing as the crowd sings back word for word like a choir. Taylor embraces her live band and feels at home on the stage. And with the introduction of her new song ‘Mother,’ amidst dramatic red lighting, she's a superstar meant for the biggest stage.

Self Esteem has created a spectacle in every sense. Even with her selection of support acts. From a poignant set by the sensational Tom Rasmussen or the uncanny Arctic Monkeys tribute Arctic Numpties, where Rebecca joined them for a sweet duet during ‘There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,’ her personality seeps into every aspect of the production. Her tour is a celebration of the all-encompassing and unifying power of music, as she offers a safe space for everyone to sing and dance together.

by Sahar Ghadirian (she/her)

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